The Flow

Almost every writer I have met, interviewed, or taught agrees that our goal for every work session is to “get into the flow.” While we are in the flow, we work with the effortless energy of a current that carries us. While we are in the flow, we find we have disembarked from time’s steady train, from whose windows we are often lulled into watching life roll past. In the flow, there is no doubt, there is only the keeping up with correct answers that come as quickly as we can ask for them. The odd thing about the flow is that, like a dream, it only makes sense while I’m in it. When I’m out of the flow it feels a like a fairy tale. What a lot of childish rot, this magic land where things come easily. I’m an adult and there’s work to be done. No one gives you anything in this world, you’ve got to labor for every inch of it, and meanwhile the clock tick, tick, ticks, measuring your progress toward a final tally.

It’s grim, all right, but a man must be realistic. A man must make his way in the world, building a life with his own hands and sweat and then pay taxes on it all before he dies. How is he supposed to make this flow? If one must get into something then this something must already exist, and so a man can only find it, this place where everything he’s taught himself and every rule he lives joylessly but necessarily by is untrue.

Such is the dilemma I quietly face everyday. Everyday I write I must choose between two worlds – a world I believe I’ve made, and a world I can choose to join. You would think it was an easy choice, given these worlds’ opposing qualities, but it is not. One requires trust, the other none at all. One offers no proof, the other is built of measurable things. One says you have already arrived, the other will keep me looking until I die.


Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

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